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[SEATTLE] US aerospace giant Boeing announced Tuesday the start of manufacturing of the 737 MAX, the latest version of the popular single-aisle aircraft, for which it already has more than 2,700 orders.
The company said it had begun building the wings for the first 737 MAX slated for flight-testing in its plant in Renton, Washington, south of Seattle.
"Achieving this milestone on schedule is a testament to the success of the 737 and our integrated design-and-build team," said Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager.
The wings are to be attached to the first fuselage later this year, with the initial test flights taking place in 2016.
Meant for flying short and medium distance routes, the 737 MAX boasts 14 percent lower fuel per passenger consumption compared with current models due to more fuel-efficient engines and improved aerodynamics.
It is competitor to the A320neo that Boeing's European rival, Airbus, is scheduled to bring into service in 2017.
Since launching the 737 in the late 1960s, Boeing has delivered more than 8,500 planes and taken more than 12,700 orders. Today's production is 42 planes per month.